27 July 2014 1 of 1

TIMOR-LESTE (Dili, Aileu & Liquiça Distr.)



For the team's first field trip out at the start of a phase, we often choose the Comoro River which flows from the mountains behind Dili into the sea near the Timor Lodge Hotel. The area we head for is at the confluence of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers, a few kilometers south of Dili along a dusty road that involves several shallow river fordings. This area is also where three Timorese districts come together, Dili to the east, Liquiça to the west, and Aileu to the south. On a previous trip to a banana plantation on the Aileu shore, Sven had captured a Timor pipesnake (Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri), only the 10th or 11th known from the island of Timor and only the second since the 1930s.

The dry Comoro River valley Even the banana plantation was dry

On this occasion we were less fortunate, probably because the river bed and the surrounding habitats were drier and dustier than we had seen them before. We saw very few herps: an Emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis smaragdina) on a tree on the drive in, two Asian black-spined toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) under rock piles, and two Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) under logs. We also found several specimens of the buthid Bark scorpion (Lychas mucronatus), a species capable of a very painful sting, as both Hinrich and I know from painful experience.

Lukas, Mirco and Laura in the valley Hinrich, Sven and Max search a rock pile

Mark collected a lot of burrs in his hair and beard

We may not have caught many herps but the riverine vegetation certainly caught us. Mark ended up with burrs not just on his clothes but in his hair and his beard, much to the amusement of the others who, being fresh from Germany, were less hispid in appearance.

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